BJP allies, Northeast political parties and students` bodies oppose Citizenship Bill

Protests-Support over Citizenship Bill storms Silchar

Protests-Support over Citizenship Bill storms Silchar

A party meeting was held here on Friday on the issue and it was decided that if the bill is passed in Lok Sabha, "we will withdraw support to the government in the state", Mahanta said earlier in the day.

Protesters in Assam set up blockades with burning tires and vandalized two BJP offices, disrupting traffic and business from early in the morning to late afternoon.

The proposed Citizenship Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

All ministers and heads of corporations of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which announced on Monday that it was ending its two-year-old alliance with the BJP, would be quitting formally on Wednesday.

A new registry of citizens compiled in Assam this year forced the state's 33 million people to submit documents proving they were there before 1971, when millions fled Bangladesh's independence war.

AGP chose to snap ties with the BJP over the Citizenship Bill, which they say will make the Assam Accord "meaningless".

The AGP has been opposing the Citizenship Bill, saying if it is passed, the NRC exercise in the state would be of no use.

While speaking in Silchar, Assam on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the Centre's commitment to pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

"Hence, if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is meant to be passed in the Parliament we will have no other alternative except to repudiate the existing alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party", it stated.

The three AGP ministers and a senior party MLA had gone to New Delhi to meet the prime minister who is yet to give them an appointment.

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Pointing out that the AGP had entered into a pre-poll alliance and not a post-poll one, Mahanta added:"The people of Assam voted for the BJP-AGP alliance, not the BJP alone".

Had the AGP not partnered with the BJP, the saffron party would have not bagged so many seats in the Assembly election and formed a government in the state, he added.

Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi of the Congress said the AGP should join hands with other parties to protest against the Bill.

Police and security forces deployed in Dibrugarh had to fire gunshots in the air and also tear gas to disperse a mob that went unruly in the town, which is home to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

Besides Congress, the CPI (M)-led Left parties, BJP allies Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), National People's Party in Meghalaya, Mizo National Front and most other regional parties are strongly opposing the bill, and have demanded its withdrawal.

The goal of NRC is to identify those people who immigrated, illegally, from Bangladesh to Assam after 24 March 1971.

BJP's veteran tribal leader Rampada Jamatia, supporting the bill, told IANS: "While considering the Citizenship Bill, the logic and sentiment of the parties of the northeastern region should be looked into".

The controversial bill would grant citizenship to select groups - including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, but not Muslims - who have moved from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and lived in India for at least six years.

The Bill has been opposed by a large section of people and organisations in the Northeast.

Leader of Opposition in the Meghalaya Assembly Mukul Sangma on Tuesday described the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha as the biggest betrayal of the nation.

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